This game did not disappoint anyone who was familiar with the bitter rivalry between these two heated SEC foes. The atmosphere was heightened by the many vocal M$U who always seem to show up in Coleman Coliseum. The play was sloppy at times, particularly by the home squad, but the game was hard-fought all the way to the end. One left with the impression that the score would have continued to teeter back and forth for as long as the officials let them play. Since I had a 3 1/2 hour drive, I was happy to see it end during regulation and even happier that M$U could not answer Ron Steele's game-winning lay up with 6.7 seconds left on the clock - Steele's only bucket of the second half if I recall correctly.
Bama gave good effort all night. The defense broke down way too frequently. Several times when they failed to get back on turnovers and rebounds. More often when they failed to contain the penetration by M$U's guards. Bama's forwards were condemned no matter what they did. If they offered inside help, a pass to the open player gave an almost sure three point basket. If they did not help, the penetrating guard scored with ease. The problem was not with our forwards but with our guards. They need to be taught proper technique for that defense. I wish I knew what it was.
Almost no Bama shot underneath the basket was uncontested. Jemison and the guards tended to get their shots blocked down there. Hendrix and Davidson both scored well, but every bucket was hard earned and they frequently were shoved or slapped in the act of shooting. Bama's outside shooting kept them in the game early but then disappeared for the middle 15 minutes.
Down by five with a little more than a minute to go, CMG set up a play that gave Riley an open look and he finally broke his streak of missed shots to pull Bama within one. Riley's next three pointer made under intense pressure and evidently not the result of a designed play tied the game.
Hollinger bumped Hansboro (Han$field?) on the way up court, and he hit one of two free throws. I think that was the first free throw the M$U guard had missed all night. With no time outs remaining, Bama's players spread the floor a little bit (not a designed clear out play) and Steele drove to lay the ball in with just under seven seconds on the clock. I think that was Steele's only bucket of the second half.
M$U did not give up. They drove the ball the length of the court, fed a man underneath the basket who appeared ready to win the game. He was harassed (I can't remember whether it was by Hendrix or Davidson) and his dunk hit the bottom of the rim. When it fell back into his hands time had expired.
The least penalized team in America was whistled with more than 10 fouls per half. I think we committed more but that means we were playing harder defense. Bama did not wilt under M$U's pressure defense and kept clawing away. If they can find a way to play like this on the road they still might make some noise at the end of the year.
I'm very tired but very glad I made it to this game. I wonder if Coach Gottfried read my letter? :-)